BARCLAYS BANK HAS tried to downplay reports that it plans to open a post-Brexit EU headquarters in Dublin.
A number of media outlets, including Bloomberg and Reuters, have reported that the bank is planning to establish a European base in the Irish capital if Brexit negotiations fail to secure continuing passporting rights for British finance firms.
The company already employs 120 staff at an office in the Dublin 2 area.
A spokesman for Barclays told Fora the company has scouted for office space in the Irish capital, but said its “headquarters will be very much in London”.
He suggested the Bloomberg report was based on a “semantic argument” over whether Dublin could be considered the EU headquarters after Britain leaves the bloc.
He added that the decision to look at Dublin as a solution to a potential “passporting conundrum” is consistent with what the bank has been saying “more or less since June when we had the referendum”.
“We have made clear repeatedly that we will plan for a range of Brexit contingencies, including building greater capacity into our existing operations in Dublin,” he said later in a written statement.
“Identifying available office space is a necessary and predictable part of that contingency planning process.”
Bloomberg wrote that Barclays is “planning to add about 150 staff” in Dublin. The bank said that, according to chief executive Jes Staley, the number of staff that could be added to the Irish subsidiary will be “very marginal”.
It has long been speculated that finance companies based in Britain are looking to move their operations to Dublin after Article 50 is triggered and Britain enters its two-year negotiation with the EU.
Prime minister Theresa May indicated that a so-called ‘hard Brexit’ will be enacted at the end of March, which would pull the UK out of the single European market.
The chairman of HSBC, Douglas Flint, said earlier this month that it was highly likely that bank will move 1,000 jobs to a base elsewhere in Europe and mentioned Ireland as one of the possible locations.
Bloomberg has also previously reported that Standard Chartered was also approached Irish officials about making Dublin its legal base inside the EU.